When we are in a crucial time of combating substance use disorder and drug addiction in America, it could be useful to remind everyone of the key differences in different drug categories and which common drugs can qualify for these descriptions.
Needless to say, this is not a complete list of every known drug. Truthfully, there is a vast library of known chemical combinations that are utilized as either medical treatments or abused as a means of recreational intoxication. There are the more abstract medications that have no known recreational use, and there are many synthetics that can be far more complicated.
Still, plenty of drugs that we know of have been put into different classes. Here is a brief breakdown of the different drug categories and what drugs qualify.
Prescription Medical Drugs
First we will make a more solid distinction between medical drugs and recreational drugs. Sadly, prescription drug abuse has become a major problem in the country. The opioid crisis has been largely impacted by the abuse of drugs created for medical use. It is important to be aware of the dangers of prescription medical drugs.
Many medical drugs have side effects that make them appealing to people who don’t have a real medical reason to be prescribed these substances. Common medical drugs to be abused include:
The tragedy we have learned through the opioid crisis is that even though these drugs are typically prescribed for medical purposes, they can be extremely dangerous. That includes people who use them recreationally, and for those who are prescribed the medication because of the risk of physical dependence.
Some prescription drugs are more addictive than others, and many can be deadly when taken improperly or with other drugs, especially alcohol.
Recreational drugs are substances specifically used to achieve a desired feeling, or to get ‘high’. Most recreational drugs are illegal. Some legal drugs are recreational, and some recreational drugs are legalized in certain areas for medicinal purposes.
Recreational drugs are typically categorized into three main categories: depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens.
Depressants, which are also called ‘downers’ are drugs that depress activity in the body, meaning they slow down the messages sent to and from the brain. Examples of depressant drugs include:
- Opiates (such as heroin and morphine)
- Sedatives (such as Valium)
- Some glues, petrols and other solvents
An individual is at an even higher risk of overdose from depressant drugs when consuming different types of depressants at the same time. Large amounts of depressants can cause life-threatening respiratory issues and loss of consciousness.
Stimulant drugs are also known as ‘uppers’. The term refers to the way these drugs make someone feel ‘up’ or ‘alert’ by speeding up the messages sent to and from your brain. Examples of stimulants include:
- Amphetamines (such as speed or ice)
Some of the hazardous side effects of stimulant drugs include:
- Severe strain on the heart
- Increased body temperature
Combining different stimulant drugs, or using stimulants with depressant drugs can create even more strain on the heart and the body, which can cause major health problems or even death.
Hallucinogen drugs are psychoactive agents which can cause hallucinations, anomalies in perception, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. Examples of hallucinogens include:
- LSD (acid)
- ‘Magic’ mushrooms
- High doses of cannabis
Hallucinogen drugs do a number on the mind, and therefore they tend to make people experience things like:
- Risk taking behavior
Legal VS Illegal
One thing that we should always keep in mind is that a drug isn’t necessarily safe just because it is legal. Whether or not a drug is illegal, it can still pose a great deal of problems to different people for different reasons.
Consider alcohol. This is a legal substance, but it is still considered by many to be the most dangerous drug there is. That isn’t to say that it is as potent as drugs like heroin, but the danger rating comes from the fact that it is deadly, addictive AND highly accessible! For one, someone can get alcohol poisoning and die if they drink too much. Also, alcohol withdrawals can be some of the most dangerous there are. Add in the fact that it is extremely addictive, even more lethal when combined with other drugs, and can be purchased on pretty much every corner in America.
THAT is a dangerous drug.
Then, there are synthetic drugs. These substances can be ambiguous when it comes to being flat out illegal. For a while there were constantly news stories about new dangerous synthetic drugs being sold as “legal highs” that were making people deathly ill. In some cases, people did die.
Synthetic drugs can also fall into any of these categories, for example:
These drugs can be far more dangerous than others because of the often random chemical combinations they come in, being cooked in homemade labs with substances that have no clinical trials on human biology.
Drug and alcohol rehab programs are designed to put you in the best position to succeed with as many resources as possible, and it all starts with a healthy detox. Understanding the different drug categories may help you better understand the importance of a safe and effective treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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Author: Shernide Delva
The answer has arrived. After decades of debates and controversy over the best way to quit smoking, scientists have finally confirmed the absolute best way to stop smoking. This method was found to be more successful than any other method out there; better than pills or e-cigarettes. What could it possibly be?
QUITTING COLD TURKEY!
Turns out, quitting cigarettes cold turkey is the most powerful method of dropping the habit. Now, before you get angry at me for luring you into this obvious solution, hang on a second! You have to admit; it is surprising that this method of quitting is the most effective. After all, each and every year, different cigarette alternatives hit the market. Everything from vaping to nicotine patches to gums is released to aid in quitting smoking. Evidently, these alternatives can be more of a distraction than a real solution to quitting in the long run.
This topic has raised controversy for years. On one side, people believe it is better to taper off smoking cigarettes. Others stand by quitting cold turkey. In some ways, it makes perfect sense why people want to taper off. When it comes to other addictions like substance dependencies, typically medical professionals wean people off those drugs. However, when it comes to cigarettes, immediately throwing those packs of cigarettes in the trash appears to be the best solution.
The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, and what they found was people who quit cold turkey were much less likely to start smoking again compared to individuals who didn’t. Quitting smoking cold turkey disproves previous theories on tapering:
“If you’re training for a marathon, you wouldn’t expect to turn up and just be able to run it. And I think people see that for smoking as well. They think, ‘Well, if I gradually reduce it’s almost practice,'” said the study’s author, Nicola Lindson-Hawley from the University of Oxford.
The research follows 700 smokers in England who were planning to quit smoking. At the time, all the participants were smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Four weeks later, the researchers checked in. They found that smokers who quit cold turkey were more successful with a 49% quit rate compared to 39% in the gradual group. At six months, things start to get interesting. Only 15% of people who quit smoking were able to maintain it. On the other hand, 22% of the cold turkey groups were able to stay cigarette-free.
If you cannot see yourself quitting cold turkey anytime soon, good news: future research plans to understand how alternatives could be more effective in helping people stop.
Lindson-Hawley added, “If there are individuals who feel they can’t quit abruptly, and they want to stop gradually—otherwise they won’t try to quit at all—we still need to support them to do that.”
Furthermore, while the cold turkey group had a higher success rate, those who quit gradually preferred that method over quitting cold turkey. The important thing is for people to commit to dropping the habit for good. The more dedicated you are to quitting, the more likely you are to stop smoking cigarettes.
“I think that’s the piece that’s so convincing, which is that regardless of your stated preference, if you’re ready to quit, quitting abruptly is more effective,” said Dr. Gabriela Ferreira, of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. “That’s a compelling number, and I think that translates to the patient. It gives them the encouragement, I think, to go for it.”
Those in the medical field believe studies like these are an excellent way to start a conversation and give doctors tools to help patients eager to quit more efficiently. Regardless of what you believe in, taking a step to quit is a good way of improving your health overall.
Quitting smoking can be one of the healthiest changes you make for yourself. While quitting smoking can be challenging, it is not impossible. Most of all, it is worth it. If you are well into your recovery and ready to quit, try doing it cold turkey first before looking into alternatives. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
I know a lot of people who are into the vaping scene and therefore, I know a lot of people aren’t going to be happy to hear that e-cigarettes and vapes are not without health risk.
Touted as a ‘healthy alternative’ to traditional combustible cigarettes, electronic vaporizers caught on like wildfire. But, it’s too soon to say just how much better – if at all – vapes are when compared to their old-school smokable version.
A new risk assessment report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health says that there are health risks associated with vapes, and not just for those who partake in vaping; bystanders – much like those who inhale secondhand cigarette smoke – may be at risk from secondhand vape smoke.
Now, just to be clear, what we’re talking about in this article are the vapes and e-cigs that contain nicotine, like cigarettes. The report has only considered e-cigarettes with nicotine since there has been very little research about nicotine-free e-cigs. But the report was clear in its conclusions that e-cigarettes are not without health risks for people who vape or for bystanders.
Vapers: You Might Be Fooling Yourselves
Because vapes and e-cigarettes deliver the same amount of nicotine to users as cigarettes do to smokers, it’s safe to say that the same harmful effects from nicotine can be expected in people who vape.
Furthermore, the vapor from e-cigs and vaporizers contains so much nicotine that people who are nearby can also inhale the same amount as with secondhand tobacco smoke. This can be a trigger for addiction to nicotine.
As far as we know, however, e-cigs are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, with regards to cancer but the health risks of long-term use of vapes and e-cigs use are unknown.
“In Norway, it is mainly smokers and former smokers who use e-cigarettes. The question is if this will still be the case if e-cigarettes become more accessible. It is important to avoid e-cigarettes becoming a trend among adolescents and young adults, or to introduce non-smokers to nicotine addiction and tobacco use,” says Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, Director-General at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).
Caveats of the Research
- Admittedly, e-cigs and vapes simply have not been around long enough in order for researchers to really get a good idea on the potential risks and the extent to which these risks can go.
- The NIPH’s risk assessment is mainly based on evaluation of the individual components of e-cigarettes. There is a wide range of e-cigarette types, with varying content of nicotine and other ingredients.
- Differing types and usage patterns will influence potential health damage. If e-cigarettes are allowed to be sold in Norway, their use and possible adverse effects should be monitored by research.
Banning Vaping in Public
In Portland, Maine’s largest city, they’re not taking this sort of news lightly. Currently, the city is considering imposing a ban on the use of e-cigarettes and vapes in public spaces.
The Portland City Council will hold a meeting next week in order to discuss and make its consideration of whether to place e-cigarettes and other devices that allow the user to inhale vapors on its list of tobacco products that are banned in public areas.
Last month, the city’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee unanimously supported the ban.
There have been some recent stories discussing the concern of the unknown risks of vape smoke and, perhaps as a safeguard to those who choose not to vape – just like with traditional smokers and non-smokers – towns and cities have begun to consider bans on public vaping.
In fact, dozens of places have established restrictions on e-cigarettes and vaping in public and The World Health Organization issued a report calling for restrictions on the indoor use of e-cigs and vapes.
Electronic cigarettes and vapes can be a pathway to breaking the chains of your nicotine addiction. However, there’s still some debate whether they serve more as a tool for those who are already addicted to cigarettes or as products that could undermine efforts to discourage tobacco use. If you abuse other substances, we can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and get on the road to recovery. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Electronic cigarettes and vapes are a booming business and a fast-growing trend, having become a $2 billion per year industry since 2007. The main selling point of electronic smoking devices is that they are a safer alternative to traditional smoking. Now, that may be true but, only to the extent that getting hit in the head with a baseball bat is safer than being thrown off of a building; it doesn’t mean that e-cigs are actually safe.
There has already been some debate and preliminary research as to just how “safe” the ingredients, namely glycerin oil and formaldehyde, are given that the user inhales these through a device that heats the oil to an extreme temperature. In fact, more and more the use of vapes and e-cigs inside buildings and public spaces are being banned – an indication that there is concern of harms from second-hand smoke, just like with traditional cigarettes.
More Bad News for People Who Vape
Now, a new paper published in PLOS ONE by lead author Thomas Sussan from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that mice that were exposed to e-cig vapor had weaker immune systems than those mice that were not exposed to it.
“Our findings suggest that e-cigarettes are not neutral in terms of the effects on the lungs,” senior author Shyam Biswal said in a press release. “We have observed that they increase the susceptibility to respiratory infections in the mouse models. This warrants further study in susceptible individuals, such as COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] patients who have switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes or to new users of e-cigarettes who may have never used cigarettes.”
The study looked at two groups of mice: one group was exposed to vapor from electronic cigarettes for two weeks, and the other breathed only fresh air. Next, each group – the vape-exposed one and the fresh air one – was separated into subgroups. The first group was exposed to Influenza A, the next was exposed to the pneumonia-causing bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, and the third group was not given any illness-causing microbes.
The mice that had been exposed to the vapor from the e-cigs had infections that were much more severe than the mice from the fresh air-breathing group, indicating a weakened immune response. For some of the mice, these infections were fatal. Further investigation into the mice revealed physiological changes that had taken place in them.
“E-cigarette vapor alone produced mild effects on the lungs, including inflammation and protein damage,” Sussan explained. “However, when this exposure was followed by a bacterial or viral infection, the harmful effects of e-cigarette exposure became even more pronounced. The e-cigarette exposure inhibited the ability of mice to clear the bacteria from their lungs, and the viral infection led to increased weight loss and death indicative of an impaired immune response.”
Sussan added, “We were surprised by how high that number was, considering that e-cigarettes do not produce combustion products. Granted, it’s 100 times lower than cigarette smoke, but it’s still a high number of free radicals that can potentially damage cells.”
Free radicals in the body can alter DNA and have cancer-causing effects. With ordinary cigarettes, the smoker inhales toxins (400 to be exact, with 60 of those being known carcinogens), whereas electronic cigarettes produce a nicotine aerosol vapor that is inhaled by users. As for the lack of burning that takes place with traditional cigarettes, which can prevent some chemicals from being released, there are still a number of free radicals being introduced into the body via e-cigs and vapes.
Obviously, more study is needed on this subject in order to fully understand the effect of e-cigarettes on the user’s health as well as those who are exposed to second-hand vapor, and how it could contribute to disease. E-cigs and vapes hit the market about seven years ago, quickly becoming popular people wanting to quit smoking as well as with former smokers of traditional cigarettes. In 2013, it was reported that more teenagers had tried e-cigarettes than had tried traditional cigarettes, making it incredibly important to know what the real risks are, especially to young users.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is just a phone call away. We have Addiction Specialists available 24/7 to answer your questions, share resources, and get you pointed in the right direction. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today.
Vaping has become quite the popular trend and many believe it is a safe and healthy alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. As more and more comes to light about e-cigs and how they work, however, there are some important things to consider.
Well, there’s more possible bad news for vapers.
Many people point to all the harmful chemical additives in cigarettes (nearly 600 additives, 69 of which are known to cause cancer) and claim that e-cigs and vapes don’t have them, making them safer. However, when it comes to electronic cigarettes, a battery-powered device heats a liquid solution (e-liquid) of nicotine and various flavors, creating an aerosol. This is inhaled to simulate the physical sensation of smoking hence the term “vaping.”
We’ve written about potential dangers associated with vaping, specifically regarding the glycerin and propylene glycol that are used as solvents in the e-liquid and how they are converted to carbonyls, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in embalming fluid, building materials and some medicines and cosmetics. It can also be produced as a byproduct of cooking and smoking. Formaldehyde is a known cancer-causing agent in humans (and rats) and is found in cigarette smoke. But, it’s also found in the vaporized liquid of the ever-more popular electronic cigarette.
According to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the exposure to formaldehyde from e-cigarettes, when based on similar chronic use as regular tobacco cigarettes, could be five to 15 times higher than from smoking cigarettes. Yikes!
The problem with arriving at any definitive answer as to just how detrimental vapes are to the health of the user, is that any such evidence won’t show up until years from now.
“It’s way too early now from an epidemiological point of view to say how bad they are,” said co-author James F. Pankow, professor of chemistry and engineering at Portland State University in Oregon. “But the bottom line is, there are toxins and some are more than in regular cigarettes. And if you are vaping, you probably shouldn’t be using it at a high-voltage setting.”
Pankow adds, “A lot of people make the assumption that e-cigarettes are safe and they are perfectly fine after using for a year. The hazards of e-cigarettes, if there are any, will be seen 10 to 15 years from now when they start to appear in chronic users.”
Pankow and his colleagues analyzed the aerosol e-liquid in what’s known as “tank system” e-cigarettes in order to look for formaldehyde-releasing agents in “hidden” form at various voltages.
The findings should concern those who regularly use these vapes. Researchers found that vaping 3 milligrams of e-cigarette liquid at a high voltage can generate 14 milligrams of “hidden” formaldehyde. Furthermore, the researchers estimated a traditional cigarette smoker gets 0.15 milligrams of formaldehyde per cigarette, or 3 milligrams in a 20-pack.
And this “may be conservative,” says Pankow.
“We are not saying e-cigarettes are more hazardous than cigarettes,” he said. “We are only looking at one chemical. … The jury is really out on how safe these drugs are.”
“The difference in e-cigarettes is the material that is heated and turns into hot gas as it cools is not tobacco, but two main chemicals,” he said. “When it gets really hot, unwanted reactions occur.”
Therefore, formaldehyde-containing chemical compounds can be released during the “vaping” process as the liquid is heated. Pankow said some e-cigarettes can burn hotter than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
What’s troubling is there already exists some evidence that shows just how bad formaldehyde is: when gaseous formaldehyde, found in funeral homes and other occupational settings, is inhaled, it breaks down in the mouth, nose, throat, and airways. Exposure has been linked to throat and nasal cancers and leukemias. This is supported by findings used by the American Cancer Society, which says that exposure to formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and has also been linked to some cancers in humans.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist, who understands your situation. We are available day and night to answer your questions and to help you figure out what steps to take next. Recovery is possible.